Wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt after Saturday's practice, Michael Bennett was critical of fellow NFL players who he believes have remained silent on social issues. The popular Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman singled out some of the league's highest profile players for not being more outspoken.
Bennett's comments came days after WNBA players from the Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury wore plain black T-shirts in solidarity against recent police shootings and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. After initially issuing controversial fines, WNBA President Lisa Borders was forced to rescind the penalties, quelling a public outcry.
"That's super important (for the WNBA to show support)," Bennett said. "I think women are usually stronger when it comes to stuff like that. It takes men longer to step up. Plus the WNBA, there's not as much marketing as in the NFL and basketball. If you want to be a great influencer ... you can't really let the marketing dollars control you because brands control everything. I think the women in the WNBA have really stood up for what they want. Most of the players in the NFL are black, 90-80 percent of them. But the NFL is broken; you don't see a lot of great players talking about things socially.
"Whether it's Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers -- all these guys are white. They don't have to deal with the same things we deal with as black players. It's not as many. In the NBA... the greatest players are at the forefront of the movement. Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren't in the forefront of the movement. Whether it's the CBA, whether it's things going on with changing concussions -- the greatest players aren't involved like LeBron James or Chris Paul (are in the NBA). Our great players are sitting back taking the dollars, whether it's Cam Newton, all these guys, they're just not at the forefront of trying to change what's going on. As a great player, you have to remember that there was people who came before you. A lot of the people who came before us, they put in a lot of work in. Whether it was strikes, whatever they stood up for. A lot of times we don't know our history and forget about those people. You forget to pay homage to all of those guys. That's just what it is."
WNBA players aren't the only ones who have been vocal. Two weeks ago, NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James spoke out at the ESPY awards, citing forebears such as Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King for being agents of change in America.
"It's not about being a role model," James said. "Let's use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence, and renounce all violence. And most importantly go back to our communities. Invest our time, our resources. Help rebuild them. Help strengthen them."